This unique home, built in 1898, is one of the first homes on the block. The lot size is 37-1/2’ and the home is placed on the north side of the property. Since the building to the south is much newer we can imagine a large open yard next to the home. As you stand in front of the home you see a front gabled façade with a Palladian window on the third floor. To the left is a modified bay/turret with a pediment roof line. This angular shape at the corner of the home extends from the foundation to the roof. It is really a modification of a turret form used on many Queen Anne homes like the one next door.
The front door is in the center of the façade even though the design is asymmetrical. The front porch is a recreation of the original, which had been altered before the 1950s. In the alteration, the porch roof was made smaller and the wooden structure, including the posts, was removed and replaced with a small concrete staircase and stoop with iron railings. This drastic altering of a façade was probably necessitated by poor maintenance and care of the home during the Depression years. Wooden homes take care and continual maintenance and porches are quite vulnerable in the brutal Chicago winters.
The present owners took up the challenge of recreating the front porch using the existing roof. They were able to give the home new life through the construction of this modified front porch. The pillars are simplified posts with decorative grooves. The railings are in keeping with the modified Queen Anne style of the home. Now, with this replacement front porch, the home looks much more like the original than it has for the previous 50 years.
As you enter the home, you notice the beautiful beveled glass on the front door. It shows a more modern sense of design than the age of the home indicates. Once in the reception hall you will see several unique features of the home. First, the imposing brick fireplace which reaches floor to ceiling draws your eye. Because of the way it is fitted in the ceiling molding, it appears to be an addition to the home. We can guess that the home was drafty and the fireplace offered a way to supplement the existing heat. The reception hall opens into the living room through a wide entrance creating the feeling of a larger room. The woodwork is golden oak with a quartersawn oak floor. At the back of the reception hall is a small door, once the entrance to the basement. There is one finished room in the basement, but this small entrance must have made it difficult to use. It probably prompted the addition on the back of the home which accommodated a staircase to the basement and the back yard. Facing the front porch in the reception hall is a beautiful, large stained glass window. The design is radial with a crystal center piece. It is similar to the glass in several area homes but has a unique design.
The living room is long and seems to divide into two sections. The framing of the entrance way is curved on the inside, while the crown moldings above have egg and dart details. This kind of detailing was manufactured in the 1890s and readily available for home construction for the new middle class. It is used throughout the home. The back section of the living room has a small bay. All the wall sconces were original to the home. They are electric and do not appear to have been gas originally. J.L. Cochran advertised his new suburb as being fully electrified. This home and the others built in 1898 had electricity, though not of the wattage or quality we have today.
The living room opens into the dining room through a doorway with an oak, five-paneled pocket door. The dining room has a beautiful stained glass window in warm, intense colors. On the north side of the room once stood a built in oak china hutch. This was removed by a previous owner. The chandelier is new, a custom creation from the bronze artist Lawrence Grown of Berkley, California. It combines the elegance of the new with the craftsmanship of the old.
Off the dining room, through the unique French doors, is a sun porch, part of the addition on the back of the home. From the sun porch you will enter the kitchen right next to the staircase to the backyard. In the kitchen, you will see the configuration created by the staircase. A cozy eating area is situated away from the work area. The floor is called a Pergo Swedish floor, a kind of floating floor that is more flexible than tiles or wood nailed to a subflooring. Off the kitchen is a full bath added in the area that probably held a butler’s pantry or perhaps another entrance to the staircase to the second floor. As you climb the staircase to the second floor you notice that it is quite narrow. On the second floor, you will see one room. The woodwork is old pine and the floors are pine, tongue and groove. There is a full staircase to the third floor where there was a servant’s room in an unfinished attic.
This home is unique in the Lakewood Balmoral area, though we haven’t discovered the name of the architect. It is not one of J.L. Cochran’s designs and there is no similar home in the area.